Gegard Mousasi has fought all over the world, held titles in several different organizations and faced top talent in multiple weight classes, but still he's being regarded as a bit of an unknown underdog heading into his first UFC fight.
Throughout his career, Mousasi has never backed down from a challenge. From fighting heavyweights like Mark Hunt during an open weight grand prix in Japan to standing toe-to-toe K-1 kickboxers like Musashi on their terms under their rules, Mousasi is a man who enjoys having the odds stacked against him.
It's one thing when those odds are because he's facing a bigger opponent or fighting someone strictly in their own discipline, but it's entirely another because Mousasi just happens to be facing a fighter with a bigger, more well known name than his own.
"I have to prove to be considered at least a good fighter. I feel people still don't give me credit for being a good fighter. At least give me credit for being a good fighter, but certain fighters get that and I don't," Mousasi said when speaking to Bleacher Report. "I still feel those fighters have performed far less than me, but because they're more popular and have fought popular guys. I can't mention names, but I've seen fighters lose, they get beat up, and still no one doubts their abilities as a fighter.
"Somehow with me, I haven't fought a lot in the U.S. or I haven't fought as big names that are in the UFC, but certain things that make people think a certain way."
Mousasi admits that some of his animosity stems from the reaction he's received from some fans on social networks like Twitter, who have attacked him since signing on for his UFC debut. Of course he recognizes that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but he wishes there was a more tactful way of expressing things.
"I feel everything is positive, but you always have some certain people that talk a certain way like fans that they have their opinion but they say it in a rude way," said Mousasi. "It's like why don't you come do the same work and I'm going to rip on you. Of course there are certain people who talk like 'you're going to get knocked the f—k out' or they talk certain ways that are not appropriate, they don’t have any respect.
"But people like that you're always going to have. I want to see them do something with their lives and let me talk about them a certain way and see how they are going to feel. Fans have their right to their opinion. Of course that's what makes it exciting, but some people don't know how to talk. They should have a little bit more respect towards the fighters."
With his new deal in place, Mousasi has his chance to showcase what he's been doing for years, but now he's competing on the largest platform in the MMA world in the UFC.
"They're considered the best, so fighting them is going to put me as one of the best," said Mousasi. "Of course it's better for me to fight these well known names than somebody you don't know, but you can still lose to those guys. I'm getting more rewarded fighting a guy with a big name than fighting someone that's less known. It's all about the popularity of some fighters, but it's a great thing for me to fight some of these big names.
"I'm going to definitely take advantage of the opportunity."
No matter who Mousasi ends up facing at UFC on Fuel 9 or for his next fight, he's ready to seize this moment and show the world he belongs among the best of the best at 205 pounds and beyond.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.